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Definition: Kokoschka from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

Oskar Kokoschka 1886–1980 Brit. (Austrian-born) painter

Summary Article: Kokoschka, Oskar
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Austrian expressionist painter. Initially influenced by the Vienna Sezession painters, he painted vivid landscapes, and highly charged allegories and portraits, for example The Bride of the Wind (The Tempest) (1914; Kunstmuseum, Basel). His writings include expressionist plays and poetry.

Kokoschka studied crafts in Vienna, and taught himself painting and graphic art. His early works, such as The Dreaming Youths (1908), show the influence of Klimt, but this soon gave way to an angular and distorted graphic style, seen for example in the poster for his play Murderer, the Hope of Women (1909). Sombre and intense, the ‘psychological portraits’ of this period are among his most important works: Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat (1909; Museum of Modern Art, New York) is a good example. Another outstanding work of the period is his self-portrait with Alma Mahler, The Bride of the Wind (The Tempest).

After World War I he taught in Dresden 1919–24, where he came into closer contact with the artists of die Brücke. His colours became brighter and he turned increasingly to landscapes, which often share the restlessness and urgency of his portraits, as in Neustadt, Dresden (1922; Kunsthalle, Hamburg).

After travelling in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, he moved to Vienna in 1931 and to Prague in 1934. In 1938, when the Nazis condemned his work as Degenerate Art, he settled in England, taking British citizenship in 1947.

Though some of his later work was increasingly decorative, paintings such as Time, Gentlemen Please (1971–72), his last self-portrait, remain vivid and dramatic.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

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